Toby by author and illustrator Hazel Mitchell is a heartwarming story of a boy who adopts a dog named Toby. When the boy and his father visit the shelter, he immediately gravitates towards Toby. When Toby comes home from the shelter, he doesn’t want to play and appears passive and scared. The boy immediately comforts Toby by giving him his special rabbit and sleeping next to him all night. Training was difficult, but with love and persistence, Toby became a well behaved loving dog. At the end of the story, Toby even finds his shoe for the boy which makes both him and the father excited to have such a wonderful addition to their family.
I was immediately drawn to this book because of the great empathy and love that the boy has for his dog Toby. He works very hard and is persistent in helping Toby feel adjusted and special with unconditional compassion. I also enjoyed that the book discussed the challenges that a family can face when adopting a dog. At the end of the book, the author Hazel Mitchell writes an extensive Author’s note about the true story behind his children’s book. I wanted to share this inspirational story with my readers through an interview with author and illustrator, Hazel Mitchell.
Toby and eight of his poodle relatives were seized from a puppy mill situation in Northern Maine in 2013. The humane society were looking for foster homes for them – they were all unsocialized and needed extra love and attention before they were offered for adoption. We had adopted many rescues before, so were not new to dogs with issues. We had no idea which poodle we were getting – we just collected him from a transport by the shelter. He was very, very scared. After a couple of weeks we decided Toby really needed a lot of time to adjust and that we could give it to him – so we adopted him! All the other poodles found good homes, too.
2. What tips can you provide parents to help their children adjust to adopting a rescue dog?
Find out about your new pet’s requirements before adopting and that you can meet their needs. Pick your pet based on personality, not necessarily breed – animals are not clones. If you adopt a young animal make sure you have time and energy for them, an older dog may be a better fit for your home. Talk about the rules for the pet before he comes to your home and introduce him calmly and quietly to your home. And remember, rescue animals can take a lot of time and patience to adjust to a new family – if you need to find a qualified and recommended expert who can help you to help your pet.
There is a downloadable PDF about adopting pets and how to help them adjust to their new home on Toby’s webpage – look for the ‘adopt a pet’ link at the bottom of the page.
3. Are you planning on writing a sequel?
I would love to write a sequel about Toby and maybe his sister, Lucy, too. But we will have to wait and see!
Check out this trailer here to learn more about the book, Toby